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(Konstantinos Gavras)


Born: Kilvia, Greece, 12 February 1933.

Constantin Costa-Gavras (JPG, 16 KB)

French director of Greek origin. A graduate of IDHEC (Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques), Costa-Gavras' first feature Compartiment tueurs / The Sleeping Car Murders (1965), based on Sébastien Japrisot's popular thriller, is usually considered routine. However, it already heralds two characteristics of his later work: gripping narrative and major stars (here Yves Montand and Simone Signoret). His greatest critical and popular success came with three of his next films, Z (1969), L'Aveu / The Confession (1970) and État de siège / State of Siege (1973). All three star Montand; all three combine the clarity, pace and drama of popular cinema with political issues (respectively Greek dictatorship, Communist totalitarianism and American imperialism) in the manner of the French film à thèse and the Italian "political cinema" of the time. As is often the case with "liberal" films, the ideological positions are clear-cut and unobjectionable. Nevertheless, the films exposed huge audiences to important topical issues. Costa-Gavras' subsequent career in France has been uneven, but in the 1980s he made successful Hollywood films, in particular Missing (1982), Betrayed (1988) and Music Box (1989). In contrast to the male world of his French films, these are movies distinguished by an emphasis on women. Costa-Gavras and his wife Michèle Ray are producers. Between 1982 and 1987 he was director of the Cinémathèque française.

— Ginette Vincendeau, Encylopedia of European Cinema

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This page was last updated on 23 July 2000.